June 11, 2013

Amelia Warns standards Body on Corruption

The Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Amelia Kyambadde has issued a stern warning to inspection officials at the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) , against taking bribes that hinder control of sub-standard goods entering the market.
The Minister of  Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Amelia Kyambadde has issued a  stern warning to inspection officials at the Uganda National Bureau of Standards  (UNBS) , against taking bribes that hinder control of sub-standard goods entering the market.

In a recent meeting with the media, Kyambadde noted that some officials at the bureau had been accustomed to taking bribes from business people, yet they were paid to do the inspection work.

Last year, Kyambadde instituted a month-long investigation, into alleged mismanagement and corruption at UNBS. The evidence submitted by the investigating commission led to the sacking of UNBS former boss Dr. Terry Kahuma, whom the committee alleged had misappropriated funds. Dr. Kahuma has since challenged the charges in court saying the allegations were based on a dubious report.

Other UNBS officials including Tom Lule (inspector); Billy Tumusiime (surveillance officer); Gilbert Arinaitwe (certification officer);  Gyavira Musoke (acting head of Quality Assurance) and Samuel Balagadde (manager, Imports Inspection) were interdicted and put under investigation.The team also took UNBS to court demandiing compensation, stances that were rejected by the bureau in a Novermber 13, 2012 defence in the High Court. Kyambadde said her endeavor to weed out the culprits, has met tough resistance from some culpable members of the public.

Commenting on the issue, Dr. Ben Manyindo the Executive Director UNBS, acknowledged that corruption had been deeply rooted in the bureau, but for the last year the administration has taken stringent action against those found extorting the public.

Dr. Manyindo noted that last year alone, 14 inspection officers were sacked in connection to alleged fraud, and called on members of the public to report any incidences of corruption and to refrain from being coerced in abetting the crime.

On the weak laws that hindered the elimination of counterfeits and substandard on the Ugandan Market, Kyambadde noted that the UNBS Amendment Act 2010 is in operation; while the Anti-counterfeit bill is being reviewed is expected to be passed. She noted that the legislations spell out tough measures to be taken against offenders will be enforced.

Kyambadde is concerned that although Uganda was chair to the East African Community (EAC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the country was still a hub for sub-standard goods.

She pointed out that in recent regional integration forums, member states pointed accusing fingers at Uganda for letting sub-standards goods pass through its borders to their markets through.

Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania are hailed as countries in the region that have established working Pre- Export Verification of Conformity of Standards (PVoC).

On Friday, the government re-instated the PVoC guidelines which had initially been disbanded in June 2012. The PVoC guidelines are aimed at ensuring that goods are inspected in the country of origin before they are allowed in the final country of destination.

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